Since taking office on January 3, 2011 Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and the Republican legislature have passed a series of tax breaks and industry incentives that have dramatically increased the state budget deficit. Now they want to use that self-same budget deficit as an excuse to strip some, just some, of the State's union employees of their collective bargaining rights.
Exempt from the governor's union-busting legislation are the police, firefighters and the state trooper's unions. Could that be because gubernatorial candidate Walker collected endorsements from the Milwaukee Police Association, the West Allis Professional Police Association, the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters and the Wisconsin Troopers Association during his campaign? On Tuesday the governor announced he had hired Steven Fitzgerald, father of state Senate and Assembly majority leaders Scott and Jeff Fitzgerald - two figures Walker absolutely needs to advance his agenda through the Legislature - as State Patrol superintendent.
The way Walker has attempted to make these policy decisions palatable to the public is to sell the legislation as a way to close the state budget deficit by requiring teachers and other public employees to contribute a significantly higher percentage to to their health insurance premiums and retirement accounts, but that would appear to be window dressing. His real aim is to bust the unions.
Is Scott Walker just another corporate puppet?
A Koch Industries puppet?
Koch industries is the second largest privately-held company in the United States. They are a private energy conglomerate based out of Wichita, Kansas and have as their core industrial base the manufacturing, refining and distribution of petroleum, chemicals and energy, such dirty industries. Their ties to Wisconsin include activity in pulp and paper, a coal company subsidiary and numerous pipelines running through the state. Koch has a lengthy list of fines and government settlements not only for violating environmental laws, but also for being caught covering up and hiding those violations.
Koch industries is also famous for wielding political power.
Though the Koch PAC (Political Action Committee) only contributed $43,000 directly to Scott Walker's gubernatorial campaign, it gave 1 million to the Republican Governor's Association. The Republican Governor's Association gave Scott Walker $65,000 support for independent expenditures and the RGA spent $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Scott Walker's democratic opponent.
What did Koch industries get for their contributions?
As soon as he became governor, Walker started cutting environmental regulations and appointed a Republican known for her disregard for environmental regulations to lead the Department of Natural Resources. In addition, Walker has stated his opposition to clean energy jobs policies, policies that might draw workers away from Koch-owned interests.
The Koch brothers, Charles and David, have lost no love for public sector unions as evidenced by the stance of the groups their money backs, groups like the Cato Institute, Americans for Prosperity and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Several of these groups urge the eradication of public-sector unions.
The official slogan of Koch Industries : "Transforming daily life"
Apparently they transform it in a way that certain members of Wisconsin's citizenry object to. Today about 70,000 showed up at the state capitol to express their dissenting opinion.